New York, June 18, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists is greatly concerned by the continued detention of prominent Internet publisher and human rights activist Huang Qi. Police in Chengdu detained Huang on June 10 on charges of “illegally holding state secrets” according to local and international news reports, some of which quoted his lawyer, Mo Shaoping.
Huang was taken by three unidentified men and forced into a car in Chengdu, the capital of earthquake-stricken Sichuan province, with two colleagues, according to media reports. Police have denied requests from Huang’s family for information on his condition and have not been allowed them to visit him.
Huang’s Web site, 6-4tianwang, ran stories about angry parents who lost their children in the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan. 6-4tianwang also reported on parents protesting shoddy school construction and a slow government response after the earthquake. Huang previously served five years in prison, from 2000 to 2005, for inciting subversion through articles that had been posted on the site.
“Huang Qi’s detention is more evidence that authorities in China are determined to control critical reporting about the aftermath of the May 12 earthquake,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Local authorities must allow journalists to report from the earthquake zone. If not, the central government in Beijing must compel them to act more openly, rather than allow them to stifle coverage in order to shield local officials and Communist Party leaders from criticism.”
Huang recently published an article about a detained university professor that China media analysts say might be linked to his detention, according to the BBC. The subject of that article, a teacher named Zheng Hongling, was arrested for criticizing the government’s response to the earthquake. Authorities did not respond to requests for information, according to The Associated Press.
Huang’s mother, Pu Wenqing, was asked to visit the local Bureau of Public Security on June 16 to “take care of some procedures,” according to Agence France-Presse. She stated that Huang was detained with two other activists but did not give their names. She was not allowed to meet with Huang.
CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit www.cpj.org.